On the second day of New York Fashion Week Kerby Jean-Raymond, the founder and creative director of Pyer Moss, did something powerful. Before any models went down the runway the audience were shown a 15 minute video about police brutality on black men and women in the US.
The video opened with the now-famous footage of Eric Garner being put into a chokehold and saying the words that came to be a rallying cry in the Black Lives Matter movement, “I Can’t Breathe”. These images were accompanied by interviews with relatives of the victims as well as with Robin Givhan, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist and Joel Towers, the dean of Parsons school in New York.
This probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering that in January Jean-Raymond wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the names of some victims of police brutality at his SS15 show. After getting bombarded with emails about the tee’s, he ultimately started selling them, donating all proceeds to the ACLU.
Jean-Raymond is a New York native and, like many young New Yorkers, has plenty of personal experience with police aggression, so it’s no wonder this issue really resonates with him.
We’re hoping that somebody here in London has as much courage as he had and stands up for a cause at LFW. Fashion has a big voice and if more people used it like Kerby Jean-Raymond, it could truly be a force for good in the world. Because fashion, sometimes, is about more than just clothes, it’s about society.
As Jean-Raymond said, “I wasn’t even going to show the collection … I wanted to just show the video, open the doors and let everyone out.”